There has always been a part of me that has always been impressed with Ted Cruz and his playing the long game like a grandmaster chess champion. He waited until it was only about 6 weeks away from election day when he quasi-endorsed Trump with heavy qualifiers that (1) I gave my word with that pledge and must remain a man of my word (even when it’s uncomfortable), (2) “I’ve stated and outlined many times in the past my issues and disagreements with Trump” (and have forgiven him for his personal attacks even though he’s never apologized publicly nor privately), and (3) Hillary will 100% destroy the Constitution (the document I’ve spent my entire life defending) and laying out all that’s wrong with Hillary rather than praising Trump in any way.
By doing this, he ingratiated himself with the hard-core Trumpbarts and Trumpettes. He also gets on Trump’s good side. When the proverbial s#!t hit the fan this past weekend, many (including myself) thought that it was finally the last opportunity for the GOP to pull the plug on the Trump campaign. Rule 9 gives the RNC an easy out with the “or otherwise” clause. Wishful thinking, but if the GOPe had no balls during the primary, and again had no balls at the convention, they certainly weren’t going to grow a pair now – not this late in the game.
Now, anyone with the clear vision to see what’s coming down the pike knows that there was never a snowball’s chance in hell that Trump would win the election. Barring a major catastrophe (economic collapse, terrorist attack, a scandal so yuge that it cannot be ignored or explained away), Hillary is going to win this election with the Electoral College breakdown even though the popular vote will be reminiscent of ’92 with the other Clinton winning less than 45% of the vote. [I still maintain that the final popular vote breakdown will end up being close to 43% Hillary, 37% Trump, 20% all other third-party/write-in candidates.]
Also, anyone with half a brain knows that you cannot contain Trump. He cannot be “handled”. He is who and what he is. And now that he’s Tweeting again, proudly proclaiming that “the shackles are finally off”, that means that these last four weeks are going to be your typical Trump x1000. And he’s taking names. He’s going to go after anyone and everyone who’s in his way or who spurned him.
Won’t do him a bit of good for Nov 8, but if he’s going down he’s taking everyone down with him. Everyone that’s been against him. He needs the scapegoats to pass the blame, because he can’t be seen as the one responsible for his own demise (even though everyone except his most vociferous supporters know that it’s Trump and Trump alone who is to blame for his own actions and campaign disfunction).
And Cruz, yet again, positions himself in such a way as to benefit from the fallout. Trump loses. The GOPe and those against him get the blame. And when 2020 comes along, those voters who backed Trump will remember Cruz “sticking by their guy” (even though he explicitly, and only, backed him because Hillary was considered worse).
For those who think that Pence is the natural leader for 2020, that’s not necessarily the case. Since 1984, these are the losing VP candidates: Ferraro, Bentsen, Quayle, Kemp, Lieberman, Edwards, Palin, Ryan. Did ANY of these guys go on to win the party’s nomination the following election cycle? In ANY future election cycle? No. Sorry, Pence lovers. He will NOT be the nominee in 2020.
Who on the GOP side got the nomination in later cycles after a loss? Previous presidential candidates who came in second in previous election cycles: Dole, Bush Jr (the exception because of a famous family name), McCain, Romney. Who came in second this year? Cruz.
Four years from now is a lifetime in politics. But between now and 2020 will be a catastrophe of a Hillary administration with a crushed economy (both domestically as well as internationally). And Cruz will be front and center fighting the good fight, in the headlines, and priming his base for the second go-round. This time, with the backing of a significant amount of former Trump supporters.
It ain’t pretty. Politics makes strange bedfellows. It may be overly calculating. But in the long run, this is how you politically maneuver, by laying the necessary ground work. I may not agree with Cruz’s supporting Trump, because Trump is so awful. I was initially disappointed with him. Many, including myself, even encouraged Cruz to backtrack and reverse his so-called “support”. But I took a step back, and tried to be rational about the situation rather than taking it too personally.
I’ll probably write-in McMullin if he’s eligible as a write-in in CA come Nov 8. I’ll still rail against Trump every chance I get. But I’m in a different position than Ted – he is someone who needs to keep his eye on the eventual goal, who needs to stay focused, at times calculating, even ruffling a few feathers along the way.
In these final four weeks, I expect Cruz to work hard for certain down-ticket candidates. I expect him to bash Hillary repeatedly. But you will not hear him in any way praise Trump. He’ll be close enough to gain a majority of the positives from the Nov 9 fallout while avoiding the majority of the negative backlash. Four years from now, there will be more Trump supporters who will look favorably on Cruz by remembering that he “backed their guy” than Cruz supporters who still hold a grudge against him because he half-heartedly backed Trump late in the game “because Hillary”.
And then there’s the recently unveiled Podesta emails that state that the Clinton campaign admits to losing to Cruz if he was the nominee.
It’s a political threading of the needle. It’s coalition building. It’s ugly. It’s risky business. It’s politics. Sometimes you lose a battle or two to ultimately win the greater war.
And Cruz remains the Constitutional fighter he always was.